A Holiday Email Accidentally Sent to the Wrong Recipient Turns Up a Surprise Gift

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Just 17 days left in 2020. Enter the final lap with a story from reader Tammy Maitland of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who writes in to say that instead of trading holiday gifts, she suggested her family “make donations to nonprofit organizations in each other’s names.” But she accidentally emailed a different person with her brother’s name. The unintended recipient was 5,200 miles away in Stockholm (her siblings are in Boston). “He let me know, and I apologized, but a few days later he wrote back to say that he was inspired to make his own donation to an organization that helps homeless children.”

“It really gave me a boost that he did that,” she said. “Maybe this story could help people get inspired to make donations if they are able.” And if you’re not able, forward this to one person you know or don’t know. More lifts to enter the week:

100th birthday. Happy centennial to Clark Terry. The trumpeter lit up more than 900 recordings as one of the most prolific musicians in jazz, sharing stages with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and mentoring Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. “Since your phoenix-like recovery from serial ills—one of the more astonishing and upbeat stories of the year—I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what you have meant and continue to mean to jazz,” Gary Giddins wrote in 2002, when he saluted Terry as musician of the year. “The dramatically launched high notes, the terse, bent tones that round the corner from one note to the next like a motorcycle zooming around a curve…My wish for you on this birthday and every one to follow is good health, good chops, and a full dose of the joy you have given the rest of us all these years.” Here’s Terry with Peterson in 1965.

Northern lights. The Guardian has published a selection of “the best images” of the breathtaking sky. Photos here.

Cracking the code. A Zodiac breakthrough of sorts. One of the serial killer’s cyphers has been solved, thanks to a code-breaking team from the United States, Australia, and Belgium. Not much to go on; his letter is light on disclosures and clues, and characteristically boastful, but it’s one fewer mystery, a small step in breaking his shield. I was on the Chronicle staff when the Zodiac film was made and interviewed one of the original detectives and an eyewitness. While re-reporting the story, I discovered something curious stuck between archival photos in the newspaper’s library. I turned it over to top editors and we agreed to pass it along to handwriting experts and forensics authorities, all on the record and reported. Have a backstory if you’re into not-so-cold cases. I’ll fill you in if you drop a note to recharge@motherjones.com.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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